RTI Judgement Series: When a PIO denies information on a completely false representation
Moneylife Digital Team 16 January 2013

In a clear case of giving misleading information, the PIO of the Railway Board was found wrongly claiming exemption citing a stay obtained in a different case. This is the 22nd in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC, that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

A Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Railway Board was found giving misleading information and wrongly claiming exemption where none exists and was ordered to provide information to the appellant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, issued a show-cause notice to the PIO.

 

“From the facts before the Commission it is apparent that the deemed PIO SM Mathur is guilty of not furnishing information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of Section 7 by not replying within 30 days, as per the requirement of the RTI Act. It appears that the deemed PIO’s actions attract the penal provisions of Section 20 (1),” the Central Information Commission (CIC) said in its order dated 15 June 2009.

 

GPN Tiwari, a resident of Gorakhpur district on 14 November 2008 sought information about his answer books from the PIO of Railway Board. He appeared in about 3A Exams (main) from SO (Accts) group conducted by Director of Finance (CCA) of the Railway Board, during 2004 and 2006. He said he was fully confident that the papers were solved to his utmost satisfaction and the marks obtained by him seem to be very low. Therefore the appellant had asked for observing the following answer books in original for his personal verification and ultimate satisfaction:

S.No.

Exam

Roll No.

Subject code

Paper code

Marks obtained

1.

Appx. 3A Exam-2004 (main)

(from NER/GKP)

03573

SB2-08

WOB-2

36

2.

Appx. 3A Exam-2006 (main) (from NCR/ALD)

03151

SBI-04

SB2-08

WOB-1

WOB-2

41

33

 

The PIO replied that “Answer books of the Appendix-3 (IREM) Examinations are preserved in the Railway Board for a prescribed period. Recently, CIC has ordered disclosure of answer books of Appendix-3(IREM) Examinations by the Railway Board. Railway ministry has filed appeal in the High Court of Delhi against the said order which is the subject matter of CWP 9049/2008.  Hon'ble High Court of Delhi has granted stay order on 19 December 2008 on the CIC orders of disclosure of answer etc.  Hence, answer books of Appendix-3 (IREM) Examinations cannot be provided at present.”

 

Tiwari then filed the first appeal with the First Appellate Authority (FAA), whose order said that “I find that information as sought by you and available in this office as already been furnished by the PIO vide letter dated 31.12.2008.  The appeal has been examined and a brief apprising you with the position you with the position have already been provided from the Directorate concerned.”

 

Not satisfied with the replies provided by both the PIO and the FAA, the applicant then approached the Commission. During the hearing, the Commission noted that the PIO denied information on a complete false representation and the stay order given by the high court does not cover the RTI application in the instant matter. The high court stay order referred to by the PIO states as follows:

 

WP(C) No.9049/2008 and CM.No.17383/2008 (Stay): “Learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner has   complied with the substantial part of the order passed by the CIC, however, petitioner is aggrieved by the direction of the CIC whereby the petitioner has been directed to disclose and handover copies of the answer-sheets of other candidates, which he submits is against the decision of the Full Bench of the CIC itself as observed in para 42 of the Judgment.”

 

Para 42 of the CIC’s decision referred to in the said stay order states:

“42. However, in so far as the departmental examinees are concerned or the proceedings of Departmental Promotion Committees are concerned, the Commission tends to take a different view. In such cases, the numbers of examinees are limited and it is necessary that neutrality and fairness are maintained to the best possible extent. Disclosure of proceedings or disclosure of the answer sheets not only of the examinees but also of the other candidates may bring in fairness and neutrality and will make the system more transparent and accountable. The Commission, moreover finds that the proceedings of the Departmental Promotion Committees or its Minutes are not covered by any of the exemptions provided for under Section 8(1) and, therefore, such proceedings and minutes are to be disclosed. If a written examination is held for the purpose of selection or promotion, the concerned candidate may ask for a copy of the evaluated answer sheet from the authority conducting such test/examination.”

 

Mr Gandhi observed that the CIC’s decision in fact states that the case covered by this application is not covered by any of the exemption of the RTI Act and the Commission has ruled that the information must be provided. “This appears to be a clear case of the deemed PIO-Director (Finance) giving misleading information and wrongly claiming exemption where none exists,” he noted.

 

The Commission, while allowing the appeal asked the PIO to provide the information to the appellant before 20 June 2009.

 

It further said, “From the facts before the Commission it is apparent that the deemed PIO SM Mathur is guilty of not furnishing information within the time specified under sub-section (1) of Section 7 by not replying within 30 days, as per the requirement of the RTI Act. It appears that the deemed PIO’s actions attract the penal provisions of Section 20 (1). A show-cause notice is being issued to him, and he is directed give his reasons to the Commission to show cause why a penalty should not be levied on him.”

 

 

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000966/3696

https://ciconline.nic.in/cic_decisions/SG-15062009-05.pdf

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000966

 

                                                                  

Appellant                                            : GPN Tiwari, AA

                                                            PO-Kunraghat

                                                            Dist. Gorakhpur (UP)

                                                                                                 

Respondent                                        : CPIO (III)

                                                            Railway Board

                                                            Ministry of Railway, Govt of India

                                                            RTI Cell

Comments
SUJIT KATYAL
10 years ago
I only wish there were more upright commisioners like Hon. Shailesh Gandhi.
Free Helpline
Legal Credit
Feedback